Tipp top performance restores faith in the game
When I was looking at the Clare v Kerry game on Sunday I was despairing at what the game of Gaelic football has become. It was surely the most boring All-Ireland quarter-final that has ever been played.
You could clearly hear the shouts of the players on the field as the small crowd sat there looking at their watches, willing the final whistle to sound as Kerry went through the motions. It was dreadful stuff.
But less than two hours later my faith in our great game was restored by Tipperary who put on the finest display of attacking football that we have seen in the championship for many years.
I know that the result against Galway doesn’t reflect too well on Roscommon, but it was a breath of fresh air watching the likes of Peter Acheson, Bill Maher, George Hannigan, Michael Quinlivan and Conor Sweeney in action. Anyone who saw the game will know that Tipperary could easily have scored at least three more goals.
It was incredible to report that Tipp brought about 200 supporters to the game against Derry in Cavan a couple of weeks ago and in Croke Park last Sunday they had hardly any more than 1,500 supporters. Hurling rules the roost in Tipp that’s for sure. I hope that they have more support for the All-Ireland semi-final. They have a team that is well worth going to see. They may not win the All-Ireland title but when 2016 is over that Tipperary display is one that will be remembered for many years to come. That’s how Gaelic football should be played. Fit, athletic players playing with no fear, letting the ball do the work, leaving forwards in close to the goal where they can do damage. It was a pleasure to watch it. In fact that was the kind of football that Roscommon were playing in the league against Cork and Kerry and Donegal and Down before we changed our style of play.
So where do the weekend games leave Roscommon? It’s hard to say actually because every championship game is different but it does not reflect well on the Connacht Championship. We in the media (myself included), were all praise for the Galway full-back line and midfield after they won the Connacht final. They were torn apart by Tipperary last Sunday and remember that Roscommon were beaten by 11 points by Galway in the Connacht final replay. Well done to Liam Kerins who has done a great job with this Tipperary team. Remember too that they have at least four top class players who are either in the USA or Australia. One wonders if those lads were available what Tipp might be capable of.
The more this championship goes on the more it looks like Mayo were caught on a bad day against Galway and despite their shortcomings are still by far the best team in Connacht. Mayo stuttered once again against Westmeath and they will have nowhere to hide against Tyrone but I wouldn’t write them off. Similarly Donegal were shaky enough against Cork but again they will give Dublin a searching test this weekend.
Last weekend’s games were proof, if any is needed, that the GAA are going to have to take a look at the championship format. This year it has produced a very lop-sided draw. Last weekend there were little more that 25,000 people at the first two quarter-finals while this Saturday the place will be packed to the rafters for Tyrone v Mayo and Dublin v Donegal. Surely the powers that be can even out the draw a bit better.
County players in elite club
I am all for doing everything possible to make the plight of our county players easier and the deal struck between the GAA and the GPA last week was welcome, but for 95% of players in the GAA, who are the club players, not one thing was done. The fixture list for club players is an afterthought and is geared around what’s happening with the county team. We hear many top GAA officials from the President down making speech after speech about the wonderful association we have when it almost totally ignores the plight of the club player. The GAA last year had a chance to do a couple of things like the abolition of replays in championship games and the moving of the All-Ireland finals two weeks forward to facilitate club players but they did not do it. There is no doubt that the GAA is a great organisation but it is only the elite that are benefitting. There is little heed passed on club players.
Rory’s year hasn’t made the cut
So Jimmy Walker won the PGA championship after another tight finish last weekend and in 2016 we have had four brand new major champions. But nothing for Rory McIlroy, who has had a very bad year. It is hard to feel sorry for him too. He made some outlandish statements over the past year and he dug a few big holes for himself that he could not get out of. He pulled out of the Olympics and then he said he wouldn’t even watch the golf on the TV saying he would watch other ‘proper Olympic sports’. He said that he could win a major every year until he was 45. Not this year Rory.
Then he arrived at Baltusrol last week saying that the course suited him down to the ground and that he was confident he would win. He missed the cut.
There is no doubt that he is a fantastic talent but he has a lot to learn.
Olympic Games have lost lustre
They used to say that the Olympic Games was the greatest sporting show on the planet but I have to say that I am finding it hard to get excited about these games which are starting in Rio on Friday. The widespread cheating that has gone on at the top in several sports around the world and especially in athletics has sullied the name of the Olympics and it’s a pity. When you are watching you don’t know if the people winning medals are on drugs or not and that’s very sad for the ones who are clean.
From an Irish point of view I will certainly watch the boxing and we have a great chance in a number of weights and of course Katie Taylor will be the favourite to bring home gold again. After all the codology that went on with regard to the golf I would love to see Padraig Harrington win a medal. For an outside chance, how about Dan Martin and Nicholas Roche to win a medal in the cycling?
Return to club action
The club football championship will take over here in the county over the next few weekends and it will be interesting to see who emerges as the favourites in the IFC and SFC. The games are previewed in detail elsewhere this week but there should be plenty of controversy, thrills and spills as the various groups get sorted out. I hope that we see a high standard to football. I am a supporter of the present format and it has led to many close games since it was introduced and hopefully that will be the case this year too.
From the Internet
Five time Balon d’Or winner Lionel Messi has been proclaimed the best ever footballer by Pope Francis. Barcelona and Argentina’s all-time leading goalscorer Messi has constantly been compared to past greats Pele and Diego Maradona, while going head-to-head with Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo.
But Pope Francis, the leader of the Catholic Church and a renowned San Lorenzo supporter, threw his support behind countryman Messi.
Messi endured a difficult Copa America Centenario, stunning the world when he announced his retirement from national team duty after Argentina lost to Chile on penalties in the final.
The 29-year-old, though, finally returned to the pitch as Barcelona kicked off their La Liga preparations with a 3-1 win over Celtic in the International Champions Cup on Saturday In Dublin. He will be happy with the endorsement of his famous fellow countryman! (the42.ie)
Championship Crystal Ball
All-Ireland SFC Quarter-Finals – Mayo v Tyrone on Saturday in Croke Park at 4 pm: What a double bill this will be at Croker. Tyrone have to be favourites to advance after a superb championship so far and they are the one team who could upset the Dubs’ applecart. Mayo have been stuttering their way through the qualifiers but they are where they wanted to be at the start of the year. I give them a great chance here but they will have to play better than they have so far. Tyrone are relentless and they have some marvellous players and they might just shade it. Prediction: Tyrone
Dublin v Donegal in Croke Park on Saturday at 6 pm: Dublin will be hot favourites but don’t write off Donegal. They might not be the force that they were but they will relish a shot at the Dubs and we will all remember what they are capable of doing defensively over the years. But the Dubs look an awesome outfit with a bench that can swing the game their way. It would be a shock if they don’t prevail after a searching test. Prediction: Dublin
All Ireland SHC Semi-Final – Kilkenny v Waterford on Sunday in Croke Park at 3.30 pm: Waterford will bring a huge following to headquarters in the hope that they might cause an upset and their magnificent U-21 players will certainly give them a boost after a brilliant win in the Munster final. But it’s just another day at the office for Brian Cody and Kilkenny and they will wear The Déise down and power into another final. Prediction: Kilkenny